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Train collision in Chile kills at least 2 people and injures 9 others

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SANTIAGO -

At least two rail workers were killed and nine others injured Thursday when a freight train collided head-on with another train on a test run just outside the capital of Chile, a rare fatal crash in the South American country.

Police said they were investigating to determine the cause of the collision, which left the test car sitting fully on top of the freight train. Authorities said they detained the driver of the test train and a railway operator for interrogation on charges of reckless manslaughter.

Photos and video of the scene showed one carriage jackknifed several meters into the air above a badly mangled cargo train. Two dozen emergency vehicles swarmed the tangle of crushed metal as helicopters buzzed overhead in San Bernardo, a district just south of Santiago, the capital. Trains service in Santiago remained suspended Thursday following the crash.

The eight-car freight train was carrying 1,346 tons of copper, Chile's main export, and had some people on board while the other train had 10 workers on board operating a speed test, the state rail company said.

Security camera footage showed both trains travelling at high speed when they slammed into each other. It wasn't immediately clear why the test train hadn't been alerted to the freight train's approach.

"We have to identify what the causes are and take the corresponding measures," Transportation Minister Juan Carlos Munoz told The Associated Press.

Authorities identified the two people killed as crew members on the freight train. Another nine people were injured, including four Chinese nationals who were operating the test train. Medical workers said six people remain hospitalized, among them one in intensive care.

Heavy rains have thrashed Chile in recent days, causing floods that have submerged hundreds of houses and displaced thousands of people. The downpour had largely eased in Santiago on Thursday and it didn't seem to have contributed to the collision.

Train crashes have become rare in Chile. The government significantly boosted its safety awareness after a 2001 collision involving a passenger train and a bus that killed 20 people and injured many more. The country hasn't had a fatal crash since, although four derailments and other crashes in the last two decades have injured dozens.

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